Lab Matters Winter 2022 - Page 5

PRESIDENT ’ S & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER ’ S MESSAGE anything about public health laboratories and I didn ’ t know anything about APHL . But my colleagues told me to “ Look on this website , here ’ s information you need to use .” That was my introduction to APHL , and I remember I was so excited about it that I went and showed other people . And after I went to my first annual conference , I had this huge list of things I wanted our laboratory to accomplish .
Becker : I think APHL ’ s place in the world has changed . And I think that can only help inspire , encourage and engage others . I believe the association is more open to push the envelope even more and to be more for our members and the public health community . We ’ re involved in dialogues , conversations and engagements at a very different level than before . Our voice has always mattered , but we had a little voice . Now our voice is much bigger — not outsized , not bleeding edge — but leading edge , and that ’ s a good place for us to be .
Q : As President of APHL and CEO of APHL , how do you iterate your positions going forward ?
Ware : It seems like APHL continually inspires the public health laboratory community to grow . But I think APHL prevents us from being stagnant . I think that we , maybe a long time ago , had that capacity to where we just kind of did our set goals for our state . But now we see how collaboration is needed and how we do need to modify what we ’ re doing . In the past , it used to be data would bring us to the tables of power with executives and state response teams , among others . But it seems like since COVID-19 our data have not held as much interest . So that ’ s a whole different thought process for public health — if we ’ re not about bringing the data , what do we bring ? Our core function revolves around data , but data doesn ’ t need to be the focus point of what gets us to the table .
Becker : Right . We don ’ t have to wait for an outbreak . There are things that we could probably be thinking of and just do it . It means thinking of our system differently . For example , APHL internally struggled with the conversation about where we fit in with health equity for years — we couldn ’ t really figure it out . And then it was laid bare in the pandemic , and it was so obvious to us that we have a role in ensuring there are no testing deserts ; that we are , in fact , with sequencing and variant surveillance , getting at all the population . Some of it still is the data , but I think we also must begin to think about what we do differently in the future .
Ware : I think it goes back to that opportunity that we had talked about that we stayed because we like to grow and we like to see our organizations grow with us . Public health really provides stimulation for that growth because what you saw yourself as being a couple years ago may not be what is needed at that current time . So , the adaptability requirement I think starts with a mindset of what the top of the organization needs , then you ensure you have adaptable people who you can convince to follow you , because it is a team process . It is very exciting because we see that adaptability changing generations of employees , and it is inspirational to see how they handle it . In public health you have a different challenge every year and one that was completely unexpected .
Becker : You know , I take APHL ’ s mission to heart . One of the things that we have built in our DNA is quality improvement . So I think to me that ’ s the iterative aspect — I could not be in my role as long as I am doing the same things I did 25 years ago , 10 years ago , even five years ago . The organization is dynamic — it is a living being that evolves over time . We have been doing pandemic planning for years and I could not have imagined , or planned for , any of the challenges or opportunities that we were afforded . Laboratory science is evolving , ushering in technological change , culture change , societal change , political change . I truly believe in servant leadership , but that doesn ’ t mean leading from behind . You must have that adaptability gene … and maybe a little bit of adrenaline . g
Scott Becker , MS Chief Executive Officer , APHL
I think APHL ’ s place in the world has changed . And I think that can only help inspire , encourage and engage others .”
Winter 2022 LAB MATTERS 3